I was obsessed. I sat in front of the computer for hours on end clicking refresh on Kijiji’s Livestock section. Most of my farm assets are Kijiji finds – my does, my buck, most of my chickens, Chuck the truck, even Milo. Without Kijiji I’m not certain that any of this farming business would even be possible. I had almost everything I needed on the farm, but there was one impending addition lurking in my future – a horse.
The last addition was inevitable, but it was also one that made me hesitate. Over and over again, I looked, I dreamed, and then I moved on. The few times I was tempted to reply to a horse ad I always managed to snap myself out of it before it was too late. The fewer times that I actually did reply, Troy snapped me out instead. It’s not that I didn’t want a horse – oh, I really, really did – it’s just that I knew it was a commitment of time and money and that Troy would have to be wiling to go along with the plan. I was often willing to commit myself, but committing someone else is a different ballgame all together. Especially when that person claims he doesn’t like horses.
I went a long time without a Kijiji find, but a few weeks before Easter something caught my attention, and this time I kept going back. I would write the email to the poster of the ad, re-read it, and then erase it. I probably did this 7 or 8 times. Finally, under the influence of a glass or two of wine one night, I actually pressed “send”. The next morning I got an email back with a location – the horse was in Debert – and a phone number to call. I hesitated for a couple of days, but for some reason I couldn’t let this one go. Half Newfoundland pony. Green broke. 6 years old. Gentle. Not much else to go on, far less than many other ads I’d been intrigued by. Still, intuition told me that this just might be the one. I clicked the ad over and over but I didn’t dial the number.
Two Sundays before Easter, as we prepared to drive to Truro to deliver one of the bucklings to his new owner, Troy asked, “So did you call about that horse?”
“No,” I told replied, “I haven’t.”
“Well, maybe you should. Debert is pretty close to Truro and we could swing by after we drop Sam off.”
It didn’t take me long to dial the number and arrange a visit. “it can’t hurt to just look,” Troy commented as I scribbled down the address. I figured he was hoping a visit would help relieve my obsession.
The moment I saw Willy in the flesh, I knew I was in trouble. He was the whole enchilada: solidly built, appropriately sized, an easy keeper, and most importantly, extremely friendly. As I walked around him picking up hooves and poking here and there he stood still, unrestrained in any way, letting me do what I needed. When I finished checking him out he nuzzled into my sweater and gave me the look – my heart melted and I knew that my obsession was well grounded – this was the one.
“Are you in a hurry to get rid of him? We’ll need to talk about this before I can commit,” I told Willy’s owners. “I’ll give you a call and let you know what we decide.” I motioned to my husband to head back to the car.
Troy gave me the hairy eyeball. “You’re going to buy him, that’s obvious” he said, “There’s nothing to discuss – just do it.”
“I’ll need a couple of weeks to get a stall ready and arrange for help trailering him,” I gulped. I arranged to send a deposit and minutes later we were on our way home and I owned a horse.
Willy came home on Easter weekend. Although I was prepared for a fight with the trailer, he walked on first try. In all my years of horses I had never seen a horse load so easily. Over the next few days I led him around the property and found him to be mostly unflappable – we stood by the road as trucks and cars and even snowplows blew by. He didn’t even twitch an ear. Although he apparently hadn’t been ridden in over a year, I was starting to suspect that hopping on his back was going to be a piece of cake. A week later, once he had settled in, I gave it a shot. No way no how was he prepared to let me mount. It looked like I had my work cut out for me after all.
Fast forward 5 weeks. I’ve spent countless hours lunging, desensitizing, saddling and bridling. Willy took it all in stride and seemed to get a little bit more tolerant with each session. Finally, yesterday, I decided he was ready. I took him across the street to Colin and Sherri’s nice big sandy arena, and with their help and a million butterflies bouncing off the walls of my stomach, I put my foot in the stirrup and mounted my horse. Willy was a little unsure at first, but it wasn’t long before I was riding in circles around Sherri as she held the lunge line for security. I didn’t end up on the ground, and no bucking, rearing or bolting occurred. I was prepared for the worst, but apparently, my extensive ground work payed off. No mangling. Yay!
Willy and I still have a long way to go, but from here on in I’m hoping things will just get easier and easier. I’m working towards a bomb-proof horse and my gut tells me that with a little effort on my part, that’s not too far away. Best of all, while I’ve been working on Willy, he’s been working on Troy. The man who used to claim he didn’t like horses is now glancing at horse ads on Kijiji himself and asking me, “Is that my horse?”
I’m pretty sure that when it is, we’ll just know.